2003 Toyota Corolla Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 2003 Toyota Corolla as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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11
Known Problems

If the engine will not crank over, the most common problem is the starter. These will tend to go out at about 100,00-125,000 miles. Sometimes it is only the starter solenoid, but often the complete starter (including solenoid) needs to be replaced.

The timing chain tensioner is designed to use oil pressure to keep tension on the timing chain. When it develops a leak, it can no longer provide tension, and the timing chain will begin to make a slapping or rattling sound at all times.

If left in this condition, the timing chain may fail, leading to costly internal engine repair.

To correct this issue the timing chain tensioner must be replaced with the revised part.

At higher mileages, (125,000-150,000) the automatic transmission may not shift correctly. This can be caused by the throttle position sensor being out of adjustment or a shift solenoid needing to be replaced. Typically the transmission does not need to be completely overhauled.

There are occasional reports of daytime running light problems.

The Check Engine Light may illuminate due to an evaporative emission (EVAP) system fault. Our technicians tell us these EVAP system faults can be difficult to diagnose but it is not uncommon to find a failed charcoal canister or a loose or worn gas cap.

The window regulator in the 2003 and 2004 Toyota Corolla were assembled using defective bolts that allow the window to fall off track during normal operation. The bolts stretch, loosen, and break, allowing the window glass to move freely inside the door, independent of the regulator. 

The solution is to either replace the electric window regulator, or just the bolts, depending on the amount of damage done to the regulator. 

The mass air flow sensor on higher mileage cars occasionally needs to be cleaned or replaced if sluggish acceleration is experienced or the Check Engine Light is illuminated with a mass air flow meter sensor fault code stored.

At 125,000-150,000 miles, the Brake Master Cylinder may need replacing. It is critical to adjust the brake pedal to Master Cylinder pushrod clearance or the brakes can drag and over heat.

If the vehicle develops an annoying, clunking sound when driving over bumps it is usually the struts and strut bearing plates. These may need replacing at 100,000-125,000 miles or sooner. If the noise is a more of a squeak or groan, it can be usually be eliminated by spraying a light lubricant on the suspension bushings 1-2 times per year.

The bolts attaching the front door window glass to the window regulator may come loose. This can cause the window regulator to become damaged and possibly causing the window glass to break. Some 2003 & 2004 models have been recalled for the issue.